Steve Jobs may consider optical media to be dead, but the good folks at Roxio beg to differ. For professions that still need and use optical media, and specifically need to author Discs, Roxio has released a new version of their Toast 11 software suite.
Toast 11 is a complete and thorough set of utilities to manage, edit, and convert audio and video to and from optical discs. It’s widely recognized as some of the very best disc authoring software available for the Mac. Toast 11 Pro is essentially Toast 11 Titanium with a bunch of added software to increase its functionality.
A Damn Lot. Roxio includes a whole suite of utilities, including PhotoShop Elements 9, FotoMagic 3, Disc Cover 3, GetBackup Pro, software to help manage content for your Tivo, and detailed sound editing software. For the purposes of this review, we will focus on Toast as a consumer and pro-sumer level backup and disc authoring utility, without jumping in to the advanced audio editing and other features that might bring to the table – we may reserve that for a separate review.
Toast 11 ($99.99) and Toast 11 Pro ($149.99) vary only in what’s included in the package, with the difference in price coming down to which plug-ins and apps are bundled:
• Toast 11: Disc Cover 3 RE, DiscCatalogMaker RE, Get Backup 2 RE, Mac2Tivo, Spin Doctor, TiVo Transfer
— HD/BD Plug-in pack available separately for $19.99
• Toast 11 Pro: Toast 11 HD/BD Plug-in, Adobe Photoshop Elements 9, FotoMagico 3 RE, SoundSoap 2 SE, SoundSoap 2 AU Plug-in for Toast, Sonicfire Pro 5
I have used Toast in the past, but what struck me about the new version was first, the new interface – Toast has been redesigned from the ground up for this release, and it’s both faster, more stable, and more beautiful than its predecessor. Although this version of Toast does not include support for PowerPC processors (first release to exclude this functionality), this is done to focus more specifically on optimizing the software for performance for the majority of users.
A Beginner No Longer
One great feature that Toast has always has is excellent tutorials. The first time you launch the app (and every time thereafter if you so choose), it directs you to the website for training, but also offers detailed video tutorials covering every nuance of the software – it’s a great thing that many application developers overlook.
Also, Toast comes with an assistant, to make common tasks like burning a DVD or CD simple and straightforward.
Toast 11 Pro is a complete and comprehensive burning studio. It can encode your videos before burning, and handles all popular formats I’ve thrown at it, including MKV’s. It does a great job on the scaling, and can automatically rescale your content to fit on the discs that you are seeking to burn to.
Also, For the first time, Toast now supports simultaneous burning to multiple drives—this lets you create two copies of the same disc, say, if you have both an internal and and external CD/DVD burner. Roxio has also improved the DVD clip extraction feature for use with unprotected DVDs, image files, and Video_TS folders.
Under The Hood
Users of Toast 10 likely are aware that configuration can sometimes be a nightmare, with tons of pop-up windows. With the re-written interface, it’s both more focused and more functional, keeping configuration all within one screen.
What’s more, Toast 11 comes with new integrated file browsers, as well as an iLife media browser, which both boost organization and content arrangement to a whole new level. Putting together a slide show or simple set of family videos is now smooth as fresh-churned butter.
Additionally, there are two new features that I’ve been getting serious mileage from – Custom video profiles, which can be configured once and then re-used, and also scheduled conversions. Scheduled conversions has been a life saver, as I can create a que of all the vids I want converted (it can convert videos to iPhone-friendly formats), and set it to automatically run at night without me having to remember – saves usage of my processor during daylight hours, and still gets the job done.
Things To Be Desired
While Toast’s new interface is beautiful, and helps with everything from YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook publishing, to making it easier to organize content into a project, to working with photos, there are a few things I wish it could do, namely integrate with MobileMe Galleries and iDisk, as well as Google’s Picasa. These features would be awesome, and would make a significant difference for me.
Another thing I’ve been missing is VideoBoost, which can greatly enhance h.264 video conversion and encoding. The trouble is that it only works on Macs with Nvidia graphics, leaving my beautiful 2011 MacBook Pro, with its ATI goodness, somewhat in the dust.
Other Cool Features
The app also includes a streaming audio capture feature, which can capture audio from any app, or any source coming into your Mac. It also features a DVD clip extraction utility, and the ability to capture and convert web video.
Further, spending the extra $50 on Toast 11 Pro will net you a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 – well worth the extra $50 on its own.
Rating and Final Thoughts
Toast 11 Pro is the most comprehensive burning software I have ever used for any platform, and is a solid value for the cash. I found myself very immersed in the software from the very beginning, and found myself wanting very little additional oomph out of it. For this, I grant Toast 11 9 out of 10 points.
Conclusion And More Information
Toast 11 Titanium or Pro are solid purchases at $99 and $149 respectively, and provide a very solid value for the cash. Toast 11 works like a dream, does everything you’d expect and more, and is the perfect addition to your app collection.
For more information, or to purchase Toast 11, visit Roxio’s website. Can’t afford Toast 11 Pro? No worries – stay tuned in the coming days and weeks for a giveaway of a couple of copies.